Michael recently purchased a condo in the Fontaine, a 17-story mid-century condo on the western edge of Sullivan’s Gulch. We asked about his renovation plans, and what he enjoys about the building and the neighborhood.
I moved to Portland in 2005 and had been intrigued by The Fontaine building over the years. I'd often bike through the Lloyd District and think what a curious sight it was. It seemed to me as if it had been plucked out of Southern California or Brooklyn—conspicuous amidst the new construction of the mid/late aughts and the perennial architectural style of old Portland craftsman and four squares.
I'm very grateful to live in a building that is so culturally varied. Because Portland is quite homogeneous, it's inspiring to be living in a building that doesn't conform to the demographic norm for inner east Portland
One the many intriguing qualities of my particular unit was that it was relatively unaltered. I don't know for certain but I believe that it has not been significantly changed since the 70's. This means that most of the original architectural structure is intact and that it is ready for remodel.
Although I was amused and charmed by the algae-colored shag carpet, one the very first things I wanted to do was put in a new floor.
I also began working with an incredible interior architect and designer, Casey Kaesler of Casework. Casey is helping me preserve the best qualities of the unit's mid-century heart and soul while adding some updated features that prevent the space from feeling like a caricature of any particular time period or style. It's all about the windows and light in this space and one of the guiding principles is to preserve and amplify a sense of openness and air.
"I wanted to focus on the amazing views and highlight the horizontal windows. I proposed a custom built-in spanning the entire west side of the apartment, from the dining room through the guest room and into the master bedroom to draw attention to the view and bring you closer to it. The built-in includes a bench for the dining table that doubles as a reading bench. It allows Michael to extend the dining table without needing to store extra chairs. The bench continues to a storage unit that will be home for his record collection and turntable. We are phasing the project to work with the existing remodel of the building (new window installation throughout) as well as his busy work schedule and budget."
For the last 8 years or so I've been part of small group of people responsible for running a non-profit organization called Cinema Project, which is sadly just about to end in early 2017. During our time in Portland, we focused on bringing attention to experimental and avant-garde cinema, with a particular emphasis on presenting small gauge film formats (16mm, S8mm) in exceptional quality. Several of the movie posters in my living room are from films we’ve shown through the program.
It's fantastic to be a part of The Fontaine community. I have wonderful neighbors on my floor and love getting to meet people throughout the building.
One of the most fascinating aspects of the building is that, because the Fontaine has always been intriguing for people interested in architecture and design, there is a wide range of creative styles that exist throughout the building.
Many units have been remodeled over the years and because the layouts of the units are fairly consistent, it's so interesting to see the creative and different ways that people respond to and alter a similar base foundation.
Another reason I chose the Fontaine is because I believe that Portland needs more high-density housing. I was immediately drawn to the idea of living in a building with others. I can only see good things coming as the area around Sullivan's Gulch continues to develop.
I think that additional high-density housing will only bring more vibrancy and life to the area. I think the only real downside is that parking will continue to be a hot commodity.
I feel like I live in a community that really does bring together a diverse group of backgrounds, personalities and perspectives. Because so many people are living in the building it means that seemingly minor association governance or maintenance decisions can have a large financial or emotional impact on any given resident. It is as fascinating to have the opportunity to be part of the discussion process as it is to observe the different ways that others respond to questions that can shape the future of the local community.
I feel very very fortunate for the view that I get to enjoy. After years of living in Portland basements, I am very grateful that I get to live amidst so much natural light. I cherish it.
D. Larson, Editor